Tag Archives: recipe boxes

A visit from The Happy Pear

IMG_4716

The Happy Pear twins, David and Stephen Flynn, are Irish chefs who run a natural food shop, wholefood café and restaurant and sprout farm and do health education talks to, as they put it, “inspire a healthier, happier world”. When they approached us keen to collaborate on our recipe boxes, a quick look at their cook book (a bestseller in Ireland) showed that their love of flavourful, veg-packed, down-to-earth cooking was a brilliant match with our own approach to food at Riverford. Back in November the pair visited us on the farm in Devon, and were as full of energy and warm enthusiasm in person as they are in the cookery videos on their YouTube channel. They had a tour of the farm with Riverford founder Guy Watson, where they harvested leeks and tasted their way through the salad leaves in our polytunnels, before we headed to our development kitchen for a bit of cooking and a photoshoot. They were a delight to have along, and we’re really interested to see how their recipes go down!

IMG_4714A little more background on the boys: After studying business degrees at university, David and Stephen travelled the world tasting as many local dishes and unusual ingredients along the way. When they returned to Ireland, over a decade ago, their aim was to start a food revolution by making fruit and veg sexy, to get involved with their community and drag as many people along for the ride as they possibly could. Today, The Happy Pear is a family and community all about making natural and healthy food mainstream and producing really great tasting products that make it easier for people to be healthier and happier.

IMG_4737

They’ve also created a strong online community and a loyal following across their Social Media platforms and channels. Each week they release videos on The Happy Pear YouTube Channel and they’re also part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube family – the largest foodie community in Europe. David and Stephen live in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland with their families and they really ‘walk their talk’ by eating a wholefood and plant-based diet, practicing yoga, swimming in the sea, keeping bees and smiling every day.

You can order a Happy Pear recipe box, which includes everything you need to make three colourful, flavour-packed dishes for two, here.

IMG_4725

Guy’s newsletter: french flings & devon dalliances

The boxes are still looking fresh, varied and full; not a bad achievement in the depths of the hungry gap, and largely down to a good harvest on our farm in the French Vendée. After a parched and sunny six weeks, April ended with a 100mm deluge making me very glad of the money invested in drainage here last autumn. We have lost some squash (wrenched out by the wind) and spinach (dying in a bog) and I fear for sweetcorn and sunflower seeds germinating in waterlogged seedbeds, but with luck the water will subside before the drowning soil becomes anaerobic and toxic to our crops.

Despite gales, mud, striking dockers and four French bank holidays in May (all staunchly observed with Gallic militancy), the veg boxes must be filled and harvest must go on. With 35 largely novice recruits picking lettuce, chard, turnips, garlic and cabbage to fill a truck a day we are stretched to breaking point. Thankfully the first lettuce will be harvested in Devon this week, allowing us to catch up on weeding before the sweetcorn and peppers disappear under fat hen, red shank and nightshade. By mid-June, as harvest in the UK gets in full swing, our French farm will be cast off like a jilted lover until next April when the hungry gap leaves holes to be filled in your boxes once more.

Back in Devon we are running a four day, hands on, growing, harvesting and cooking course in partnership with neighbouring Schumacher College this June. Teaching will be by their chefs and growers and ours in their kitchens, gardens and our fields. Geetie (my ethical pioneer wife and founder of our pub, the Duke of Cambridge) and I will also be contributing. The college might be a step or two beyond us on the spectrum towards the cosmos (pre-breakfast meditation is optional) but we have had our hands in the soil for 30 years so you can be assured the course will be well rooted on planet earth and there should be some healthy debate as well. Visit www.schumachercollege.org.uk for more details.

If you would rather cook in your own kitchen with a little celebrity help then for the next two weeks Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has created some guest recipe boxes with us, and very good they are too; visit www.riverford.co.uk/recipeboxes to order.

Guy Watson

Guy’s newsletter: surprising spring abundance

Walking around the barn, I find myself surprisingly happy with the veg boxes we are packing. As the old season ends, this is the time of year when I expect to start begging forgiveness for sprouting potatoes, too many leeks and excessive repetition in the boxes. Worse still, I often start making premature promises about the arrival of new season crops. Perhaps it is our 30 years of experience, perhaps it is good fortune, but this year we seem to have got it right.

Our purple sprouting broccoli is finally sending out an abundance of tender, sweet spears and flower heads; with lengthening days there is a rush to procreate and it will be a challenge to get everything picked before the buds open. The gathering deluge will appear in most boxes, most weeks through April, but I make no apologies; the season is brief and I have yet to meet a customer who doesn’t like PSB. Stir-fry, steam, griddle or boil; whatever you do, don’t overcook it. Meanwhile cauliflower, after decades in that culinary backwater that harbours out-of-fashion vegetables, seems to be pushing back into the mainstream. Just as well because there will be plenty of them over the next month. If you find yourself struggling for inspiration, try roasting. It was a revelation to me and you’ll find lots of other recipes on our website, including cauliflower rice. Again the season is drawing to an end; from early May you will not see a cauliflower again until September.

Our farming co-op grew a huge crop of carrots last year that taste very good and have stored so well that we have a surplus. Don’t let the cows get them; for the juicers among you we have dropped the 5kg bag from £5.65 to £4.65.

Meanwhile I will keep on shamelessly plugging our recipe boxes to the timestrapped among you wanting supper without shopping or planning, or those wishing to spread their culinary wings a little. Some of next week’s recipes come from my own kitchen and unsurprisingly include PSB (with a potato hash and poached egg, one of my favourite suppers or brunches), wet and wild garlic risotto and an especially good spring green, chilli, lentil and chicken dish.

Guy Watson

guy’s newsletter: glamour & cabbages

When food and farming rubs up against fashion and celebrity I get the urge to bolt for the cabbage patch; then again, recipes from a fry-up chomping leek puller aren’t going to shift the kale and cauliflower. With that in mind, let’s leave prejudice in the fields and bring on the irritatingly young and gorgeous Hemsley sisters. They might be more commonly seen smiling from the pages of Vogue promoting stomach flattening, bowel curative, gluten-free cooking, but I met them two years ago in proper farmer’s wellies, picking samphire in the mud and rain with one of our farming co-op members. Despite the glamour and lifestyle photography, away from the cameras the sisters talk sense and are pretty down to earth; more to the point I like their food and we share an enthusiasm for lots of minimally cooked vegetables to the extent that this week’s recipe for lamb curry (on the reverse) is from Jasmine and Melissa. Another thing that makes me want to break for the cauliflower patch is anything approaching a faddish diet; something that might have led me to resist their mission to banish starch (gluten in particular), but when rice is replaced by grated cauliflower, who am I to argue. I doubt it would get me into Vogue but I am pretty sure that I would feel better for a bit less stodge anyway.

We have been selling our recipe boxes (everything for three quick meals in a box) for six months now; they are a waste free way of cooking tasty, affordable, healthy meals while expanding your cooking repertoire; it’s the only way I can get my son to cook me supper. For the next two weeks we have a guest box featuring recipes from the Hemsley sisters, ideal for those who are after a hassle-free way of trying their style of cooking. Having honed our skills on the southern guinea pigs, our recipe boxes are now also available to those of you in the north and east, so there’s no need to feel left out.

Meanwhile, we have been obliged to make a lot of substitutions to our planned box contents recently due to unexpected quality and transport problems, so apologies if you have been disappointed. We seem to be through it now and as our spring crops are looking really good, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Guy Watson